Heavy Holidays

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It’s pretty hard to avoid fats and sugar during the holidays, let alone the rest of the year. Even the strictest of health nuts can be caught caving a time or two around those big family feasts. The trick is not to avoid the food, but to prepare healthier meals!

No I’m not talking about tofu turkey or making salad instead of ham. I’m not one of those vegan dictators. It’s fine to enjoy a little sugar and fat once in a while as long as you continue to eat healthy the rest of the time and burn it off with your daily dose of exercise. What I’m talking about is reducing the overall amounts of sugar and fat in each meal. Instead of putting a whole stick of butter and a cup of cheese in the mashed potatoes, maybe only use half instead. Substitute with some olive oil and low fat cheese. Add some fresh herbs and spices, or chopped green onions, to add flavor and a bit of extra nutrition instead of just salt alone. You would be surprised how many extra health perks you can hide in your meals and have them still tasting great, if not better!

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As for the meats, just try to make sure to keep your portions under control. There is a lot of fat in meats and it can add up quickly over the holidays, clogging your arteries in a heartbeat (pun intended). Going for leaner meats can make a big difference without cutting back on flavor. A few examples would be meats like wild salmon, venison, or meat cuts with the “loin” in the name (tenderloin, loin roast, loin chop, sirloin, etc).(1) But the classics like Turkey and skinless chicken are still pretty lean compared to most. Don’t feel too guilty with them on your plate!

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When it comes to the sweet stuff, including drinks, cutting back is really all it takes. Choose water/tea over soda, and one dessert a day is enough. If there is more than one choice, just take small portions of each. That way you get to enjoy a little bit of everything without overdoing it. Don’t ruin all of your hard work eating carefully at dinner by going overboard on the sugar!

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Remember to drink lots of water/unsweetened tea to help fill you up during/after a meal. It will help you resist the urge to binge by making you feel justifiably more full. More importantly, it also helps with digestion (2), which your system is going to be pulling overtime shifts for during the holidays. Some of the most important secrets to eating healthy are the most simple: chew your food well, don’t snack between meals, and drink plenty of fluids. Your digestive track (and your love handles) will thank you!

Sources:

1.) HEALTHY LEAN MEATS. The Paleo Diet Team – http://thepaleodiet.com/healthy-lean-meats/#.VnmJTLYrJpg

2.) Does drinking water during of after a meal disturb digestion?  Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/digestion/faq-20058348

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